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Fiddle Faddle


I’m fascinated with fiddle music, but the fiddle scares me. Having heard some mighty fine fiddle players close up, I know there is only one possible explanation for how they do it. Obviously, they’ve made a deal with the devil. I mean, humans can’t possibly play like that, right?

Many times I’ve thought, OK I picked up the button accordion as a middle-aged guy and did OK with it, and then I picked up the banjo and I think I’m doing OK playing some clawhammer too, why not buy a previously loved fiddle and give it a go? After all, I’m familiar with a lot of old time music and surely the fiddle is just a different machine? The obvious reason is it looks hard, really hard. I’ve got hands like canned hams and fiddles have a small fingerboard and no frets to help along the way. And then there is the whole matter of bowing. Clearly it is impossible to learn fiddle without intervention. I don’t know if I’m more afraid of failure or of a visit from a sinister guy you says, you know I can help you out with that. Let’s talk.

Last year when I was at Midwest Banjo Camp attending classes last year, Byron Berline was there as an instructor and he is one helluva fiddle player. At one of the faculty concerts he did a piece called Fiddle Faddle, demonstrating how simple playing the fiddle is. Of course I don’t believe him.

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